Warplanes: Guarding The Homeland Skies


July 14, 2008: After September 11, 2001, the U.S. Air Force undertook Operation Noble Eagle.  The North American Aerospace Defense Command (a joint U.S. Canadian operation) was ordered to revamp and increase security in American air space. This included Hawaii. Since then, nearly 52,000 combat sorties have been flown, mainly by F-16s. That's about 20 sorties a day for all of North America. This was more than double the number of sorties flown in the 1990s. Back then, NORAD's long time foe, the Soviet Union, had just disappeared. By the early 1990s, the thousands of long range fighters and bombers of the Soviet Air Force were grounded or junked. But after September 11, 2001, Russia revived its long range aircraft force, and began making flights near the borders of the United States and Canada.

Each of those sorties cost $20,000 or more, and the entire Operation Noble Eagle cost nearly $4 billion a year.


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